Illinois school social worker gets the boot Q-triad Blog EXCLUSIVE

An Illinois school social worker who came under scrutiny for her support of an LGBT support group at Vernon Hills High School has received news that her contract will not be renewed by the district.

As first reported by my blog, Rebecca Stern, a social worker at Vernon Hills High School, had to undergo an extensive review in which the schools took steps not regularly taken for any normal school personnel review. Stern, who had supported the establishment of a gay-straight alliance, had later pushed for a school support group for LGBT students. Although no other support group has been turned down (including one for students with divorced parents), the school tunred down her request.

Students and alumni very quickly organized to support Stern and a MySpace account in support of the social worker was created.

In an email exchange between Stern and myself, she had the following to say:

This is a regulary scheduled review, however, usually we are asked to write up a brief summary of our accomplishments before the meeting. I have not been asked to do that. Also, our principal has been invited to the meeting which is abnormal. I have asked our union rep to join me in the meeting. This is my 5th year with the district. My four previous evaluations have been exemplary.

In our school of over 1300 kids we do not have one out staff member or student. It is an unsafe environment. Due to the success of our GSA pilot last year the GLBT kids are coming out of the woodwork to me and only me. They do not attend GSA meetings for the most part. I wanted to start a GLBT confidential support group so that they could meet each other and support each other. I was denied. A support group has never been denied at VHHS before. Suddenly I’m losing my job.

A board meeting will be held on Monday, February 27, 2006, in which Stern plans to address the members. Although she has not yet decided on whether or not she will address them concerning her job, she does want to address LGBT students and she will advocate on their behalf, asking the board to provide more support for the students.

Stay tuned for more information about this issue, with the most up-to-date posts available by clicking here.

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